NY Times Blasts Repubublican Candidates Over Immigration
A New York Times editorial today sharply criticizes the Republican candidates for President over immigration. It also calls on the Demoratic candidates to speak out more forcefully for sane and workable immigration reform.
The problem is that the country cannot build a fence or send troops and expect its problems to go away. Huge numbers of illegal immigrants never go anywhere near the border: about 40 percent enter legally and overstay their visas. Nor can the government purge workplaces of illegal workers without doing vast damage to the economy. At some point it must address the 12 million undocumented, who cannot be deported en masse.
The Times frames the questions both sides need to answer: [More....]
What should be the role of immigrant labor in our economy? How does the country maximize its benefits and lessen its ill effects? Once the border is fortified, what happens to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here? Should they be expelled or allowed to assimilate? How? What about the companies that hire them?
And what about the future flow of workers? Should the current system of legal immigration, with its chronic backlogs and morbid inefficiencies, be tweaked or trashed? What is the proper role of state and local governments in enforcing immigration laws? And will a national identity card for immigrants bring on Big Brother for everyone?
Instead of providing solutions, the Republican candidates have tripped over themselves and flip-flopped:
Instead of answering these questions, the Republican candidates have spent their time blasting one another as coddlers of illegal immigrants and supporters of “amnesty.” This has proved tricky, however, for the candidates who in previous lives had to deal with immigration in the real world, where immigrant energy and low-end labor — both legal and illegal — tend to bolster economies and make life easier for everyone.
Only two years ago, while governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney spoke favorably of a Senate bill that offered illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Now he says he hates amnesty, condemns Rudolph Giuliani for having been mayor of a “sanctuary city” and has accepted endorsements from hard-liners like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., who hounds immigrant day laborers as aggressively as he chases headlines.
Mr. Giuliani once welcomed undocumented immigrants and sued the federal government to preserve an executive order that shielded them from deportation. Now he links immigration and terrorism in the same breath, and talks of cracking the whip through databases and enforcement schemes with names like BorderStat.
For a while it looked as if Mike Huckabee would be a sensibly contrarian Republican. As governor of Arkansas he supported financial aid for illegal-immigrant students, and when Mr. Romney rebuked him for it in a debate, he scolded right back, “Our country is better than that, to punish children for what their parents did.” Then this month he did a stunning backflip, unveiling his “Secure America Plan,” which would require the expulsion of all illegal immigrants within 120 days.
Only John McCain gets praise from the Times:
He speaks of immigrants as “G-d’s children” and stoutly defends the path to citizenship for the undocumented. Given what he has gone through, his stance is close to heroic.
The Times acknowledges that last year's immigration reform bill had flaws, but maintains it had "the seeds of true reform."
The truth is this: Americans cannot expect immigrants to serve them — to make their beds and meals, feed their babies and ailing parents, and pick their crops — while living in fear and hopelessness.
I don't think the "seeds of true reform" is enough. I'd rather see no bill than a bad bill and had last year's bill passed, its flawed policies would be in place for years.
Once residing in this country, our immigrant workers are entitled to recognition and the right to living wages, safe working conditions and other worker protections.
As the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights organization (NNIRR) says, they should have “the same rights as any other member of the U.S.: the right to travel, work, live, study and worship freely and safely, and to reunite their families without discrimination and violence.”
We do need immigration reform. But what we need is a non-punitive immigration reform bill, one that is humane and provides equality, dignity and a clear path to citizenship. Here are some essential ingredients, according to NNIRR:
- Provide the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status
- Eliminate criminal sanctions for immigration violations
- Expand avenues for legal immigration and support family reunification
- Provide access and options for permanent residency and citizenship
- Strengthen labor protections and their enforcement for all workers, both native and foreign born
- End border and immigration enforcement abuses.
1) No to anti-immigrant legislation, and the criminalization of the immigrant communities.
2) No to militarization of the border.
3) No to the immigrant detention and deportation.
4) No to the guest worker program.
5) No to employer sanction and "no match" letters.
6) Yes to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
7) Yes to speedy family reunification.
8) Yes to civil rights and humane immigration law.
9) Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers.
10) Yes to the education and LGBT immigrant legislation.
Democrats should say no to a border fence and mandatory ID cards. The undocumented should not have to leave their families and return to their home countries while awaiting re-entry at the back of the line, which will take years. Drivers' licenses should be available to the undocumented as well as the ability to open bank accounts. They must be encouraged to come out of the shadows and live without fear. Our immigration policy must respect basic human rights. As NNIRR says(pdf)
We call for a national immigration policy in the U.S. built upon the principles of human security with dignity, justice, and equality, and that uphold the civil and human rights of all people, regardless of their race, color, class, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, immigration or citizenship status.
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